Notes and Editorial Reviews
6 Trio Sonatas
Accademia dei Solinghi
DYNAMIC 694 (54:05)
Venetian composer Baldassare Galuppi wrote his six trio sonatas, according to Danilo Prefumo’s notes, in 1760, and with their homophonic textures, relatively simple melodic patterns diced into relatively short, often repeated phrases, and their division into three movements each (fast-slow-fast), they look forward to the Classical era rather than back toward the Baroque, despite their being composed in the venerable genre of the trio sonata
(it’s a case of new wine in old bottles rather than old wine in new bottles). William S. Newman treated Galuppi’s works (primarily his keyboard sonatas) in his book on the Classical era rather than in his volume on the Baroque: He deemed Galuppi a preeminent pre-Classical composer. The sonatas surely aren’t without affecting sentiment, as the First Sonata’s slow movement or especially the sighs from the Second Sonata’s corresponding movement show (in addition, in the Second Sonata, to the dialog pitting the two violins against the harpsichord). The first movement of the Second Sonata bustles with a kind of energy that even Antonio Vivaldi’s sharply chiseled concerto subjects don’t always evince. It may not be surprising to find all these concertos written in the major mode (in this case, A, F, D, G, B?, and E) in light of Newman’s estimate that Galuppi wrote more than 80 percent of his sonatas in major.
In general, the sonatas’ first movements crackle (many listeners, cueing a random track, might relatively easily identify it as a first movement or a finale); the second movements, as noted above, include sensitive turns of phrase and harmonic subtleties (some even recalling Mozart, though Newman dismisses the suggestion of a direct influence on the later composer); the finales, though often marked
, frequently glide elegantly rather than drive forward (with occasional exceptions, like the finale of the Fifth Sonata, the jaunty figuration of which spans both manners). Prefumo notes the title given the Sixth Sonata’s slow movement,
Dialogo tra Pasquino e Marforio
, perhaps referring to two Roman “talking statues.” In any case, this brief movement, subtitled
, features passages that Galuppi, as a noted opera composer, may have delighted to transfer to this instrumental genre; the sonata’s finale also bears a title, in this case,
, though the device hardly suggests the one by the same name that characterized Vivaldi’s concertos. The Accademia dei Solinghi (Claudio Adriani playing an Andrea Guarneri violin from 1675, Franco Simeoni playing a violin made in 2007 by Franco Simeoni, Alessandro Peiretti playing an anonymous late 18th-century cello, and Rita Peiretti playing a harpsichord made by Davide Peiretti in 1986) endows these sonatas with a brusque energy that brings to vivid life Charles Burney’s remarks, after he’d encountered Galuppi’s music in Italy, about the composer’s youthful imagination. Dynamic has provided a close up portrait of the ensemble, yet surrounds the instruments with enough reverberation to fuse their crunchy textures into a pleasingly mellifluous amalgam. On the basis of the sonatas’ lively and ingratiating melodic imagination and of the energetic and sympathetic performances by the Accademia, Dynamic’s release should appeal more widely than to specialists.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
For some centuries Venice was one of the main centres of music-making in Italy. In the early 18th century Vivaldi was the key figure in the music scene, composing numerous operas, sacred works and instrumental pieces. After his death in 1741 his place was taken by Baldassare Galuppi, who soon became the most fashionable Italian master. His popularity was such that pieces by other composers were sold as written by Galuppi. One example is a setting of the
Dixit Dominus which was purchased by the court in Dresden as a composition by Galuppi. Only fairly recently the true identity of the composer was discovered: Antonio Vivaldi.
Galuppi was born in Burano which explains his nickname 'Buranello'. His father was a violinist, who worked as a barber for a living. Galuppi's main teacher was Antonio Lotti. The English journalist Charles Burney visited Galuppi in 1770 and wrote: "Signor Galuppi was a scholar of the famous Lotti, and very early taken notice as a good harpsichord player, and a genius in composition. (...) He certainly merits all that can be done for him, being one of the few remaining original geniuses of the best school perhaps that Italy ever saw. His compositions are always ingenious and natural, and I may add, that he is a good contrapuntist, and a friend to poetry."
Galuppi has mainly become famous as a composer of operas, both serious and comic. His output in this genre is huge. In addition his work-list includes a large number of serenatas, oratorios and liturgical music. The largest part of his instrumental music is for keyboard. His oeuvre for instrumental ensemble is relatively limited: eight concertos for harpsichord and strings, seven
concerti a quattro and the six trio sonatas which are the subject of this disc. They probably date from around 1760; they were not printed but have been preserved in a manuscript which is kept in the library of the University of Uppsala.
The judgement of Charles Burney that Galuppi was a "good contrapuntist" is affirmed by these sonatas which are written in the
galant idiom. They are also an expression of the ideal of naturalness which was propagated by the Italian violin virtuoso and composer Giuseppe Tartini. All the sonatas are in three movements: fast - slow - fast. Although the two violins are basically treated on an equal footing, in several movements the first violin dominates, like the the first and last from the
Sonata No. 1 in A and in the largo from the
Sonata No. 3 in D. The adagio from the
Sonata No. 2 in F is notable for its expression, partly through the use of general pauses. One of the most exuberant and technically brilliant movements is the closing allegro from the
Sonata No. 4 in G.
Sonata No. 6 in E has a remarkable middle movement, which is called
Dialogo tra Pasquino e Marforio, in the form of a recitative. This is explained in the liner-notes: "Pasquinio and Marforio are names still used today in Rome for two statutes [=statues] from the Roman age, on which in past centuries the inhabitants of the Eternal City used to place mocking epigraphs and messages (called 'Pasquinate') referring to the establishment or public personalities. The statues were also called 'talking statues'; in Rome there were no fewer than six statues of this type, though Pasquino and Marforio were the most famous. Galuppi's short recitative may then be a playful allusion to some fact or event witnessed at the time of composition, or it might bear cryptic references to his time which, at the moment, we cannot clarify". This can only become clearer if we knew for sure the exact date and place of composition.
These trio sonatas are late specimens of a genre soon to disappear to make way for trios in which all parts were treated strictly equally, like the string trio. The Accademia dei Solinghi delivers good performances which may be a little less polished than we are used to hearing from the best ensembles of today. I have greatly enjoyed this disc, though, and if you decide to purchase it you certainly won't be disappointed. Music and performance make this recording well worth investigating.
-- Johan van Veen, MusicWeb International
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